Lindsay Beyerstein reviews Katha Pollitt's Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights in The American Prospect:
A full-throated defense of abortion as a social good, Pro is a thorough debunking of anti-abortion pieties. But it’s not just anti-abortion activists on whom Pollitt, columnist for The Nation and a noted poet, sets her sights: She also takes pro-choicers to task for what she calls “the awfulization” of abortion by paying lip service to the idea that abortion is always an agonizing decision that all women feel somewhat bad about.
Pollitt makes a compelling point: Why would that be universally true, unless all women inherently want babies all the time, or unless everyone believes there’s something at least a bit wrong with abortion? As Pollitt’s own reporting makes clear, regret and uncertainty are hardly universal experiences for those who have abortions.
Women’s reasons for abortion are dismissed as frivolous and selfish, Pollitt argues, because society doesn’t take women’s aspirations for a better life seriously. Furthermore, she writes, women are depicted as shallow—or worse—for wanting to have sex while avoiding pregnancy. This attitude rests on the conservative assumption that pregnancy is a natural “consequence” of sex, and that women who try to avoid it are shirkers.